tv The Communicators CSPAN November 22, 2010 8:00am-8:30am EST
.. >> our guest is assistant commerce secretary lawrence strickling. he heads the national telecommunications and information administration which advises the president on communications and information policy. >> host: lawrence strickling as administrator of the national telecommunications and information administration, in a broad sense what is the role of the ntia when it comes to advising the president on telecommunications and in implementing telecommunications policiesome. >> guest: right.
we're not that well known an agency, but we think we're a very important one even though we're tiny. we are the statutorily the adviser to the president on communications and information issues. right now our focus is in three major areas. first is spectrum. we handle all the spectrum assignments, the federal agencies such as the department of defense, the department of justice and so we spend a lot of time focusing on spectrum. we also by the recovery act were assigned the task of putting out $4 billion of grants to expand broadband access and adoption across the country. and then third, we're spending a lot of time on internet policy issues. this is an area that traditionally has not had an agency in the federal government to coordinate policy across all the various agencies that have equities in the area of the internet, but we're devoting a lot of time and resources to developing administration policy in that area. >> host: so how do you work with the fcc and the ftc, for
instance? this. >> guest: both of those are independent regulatory agencies, so they have their own agendas, and they are independent of the administration, but we coordinate with them very closely. so in the area of spectrum, the fcc handles assignments of spectrum to commercial providers. we handle the assignments to federal users. but much of that spectrum is actually shared by both commercial and federal users, so we're always in very close working contact with the fcc on those sorts of issues. same applies with the federal trade commission in those areas we work together, privacy being the most current one. >> host: mr. strickling, this week the ntia put out a spectrum report on spectrum availability. >> guest: uh-huh. >> host: where is additional spectrum coming from, where are you recommending that it come from? >> guest: right. last june the president directed the ntia to work with the fcc and with all of the federal
agencies to identify 500 megahertz of new spectrum that could be allocated for commercial broadband use. this is roughly double what's currently being used today, or would double what's currently being used today in the industry. we've conducted what we call a fast track evaluation and then in addition what the president asked us to do was to come up with a plan for over the next five years to find that 500 megahertz and make it available. so yesterday we released two reports. one is is our ten-year timetable and plan for identifying and reallocating 500 megahertz, and we will do that working with the fcc because some of the spectrum will come from federal users, some will come from commercial users. in addition, the white house had asked us last spring to see are there some bands that you could look at right now and make some preliminary decisions on for
reallocation. so we took a look to see if there were some bands where no federal relocation would be required. what i mean by that is when we have federal users, in some cases -- as i said before -- we can share the spectrum with commercial broadband users. in some cases the users need to clear out of the band so it can be it can be used exclusively. so we looked at three bands where we could continue to operate the federal uses and be share that spectrum with commercial uses, and out of that we've identified 115 megahertz that we are recommending for commercial uses which can be done within the next five years, so it's a down payment on the goal, but it's a good start to what we need to accomplish in the next few years. >> host: well, here to help us dive into some of those issues is lynn stand on the of telecommunications reports, a senior editor. >> host: the report identified
2200 megahertz to be looked at, further analyzed and considered, and i looked at that and a little bit less than a third is federal spectrum, a little bit more than a third nonfederal and then another third or so is shared, already shared. do you have any -- does that indicate sort of what you think you'll end up with in terms of finding that 500? do you think that roughly a third will come from federal and a third from nonfederal and a third from shared? >> guest: i think it's too soon to predict on that. what we do know is there's a lot of industry interest in a very specific pad in the 1755-1780 range. that's a band we tried to evaluate as part of our fast track. it's a band that industry would very much like because there's already equipment that'll operate in that band, it's already harmonized internationally for commercial mobile use, and so that's a band that we're going to be focusing on here as one of our first priorities as we go forward under the ten-year plan.
beyond that it's very hard to predict what we'll end up with. each band will be looked at, will be -- we will determine its characteristics, its suitability for commercial broadband use. the current federal uses, the ability if we want to relocate those uses or if there's an opportunity to share, so each band will undergo very diligent p review and scrutiny. out of that i'm sure we'll end up with the 500 megahertz, but i couldn't predict where the sources of the spectrum will come from. >> host: there's some pending legislation in congress that would address some of the issues that you brought up in the report, one of which is the ability to have incentive auctions with respect to broadcast it's. >> guest: right. >> host: stations. what happens to the ability to actually make that 500 megahertz available for commercial broadband use if that kind of legislation doesn't get passed? >> guest: well, it'll certainly slow things down.
the fcc as it's looked at the commercial uses has identified broadcasting bands as a good candidate for real reallocationo commercial broadband service, but they believe that they need an incentive auction in order to carry out that reallocation as robustly as they would like to. so we, the administration supports the idea of incentive auctions. next year the administrationing will be putting forward legislation to deal with that issue as well as other issues we think that will speed up the process of federal agencies making their spectrum available more quickly as well. one of the things we find with the federal agencies is that they would be greatly aided if they had resources to do up-front planning, some r&d if necessary to be able to plan more fruitfully for a possible reallocation or relocation. that will be part of the administration's proposal next year as well, to try to provide
more incentives and more resources for federal agencies to help them participate in this reallocation and relocation process. >> host: lawrence strickling, i noticed -- i think i got this right -- about 100 megahertz of the 115 that you have looked at comes from dod. what's dod's reaction to losing some of their dedicated spectrum? >> guest: well, first and foremost the 100 megahertz you're talking about in recommending it for reallocation, we have done so protecting the department of defense mission. so one of the large uses in that band is to enable radars. we're talking about radars that are installed on ships, also some installed on land as well, but what we've done to protect the naval mission is craft what we call exclusion zones. as these ships come in close to shore and turn those radars on, they will basically blow out any cellular system that's operating close to shore.
so in our report we have created exclusion zones so that these radars can operate close to shore and that there won't be services in the exclusion zone that would be interfered with by the naval systems. so this is a case of where the band's going to be shared geographically so the department of defense will continue to operate as normal, but we can find places where their operations don't have any impact in a particular geographic area, and we can make the spectrum available commercially in those locations. >> host: has there been blowback or concern by commercial carriers about that? >> guest: well, we're talking about a band that's in the 500 -- 3500-3600 range. that's not prime wireless real estate today. that band is used in europe for wi-max services, but it's an area that we think industry and particularly manufacturers are
going to have to work to develop equipment that'll work in that band. what we think we've done, though, is by identifying it and putting in the bank, so to speak, we now give industry the assurance that that spectrum will be available for them. they can start the planning, the r&d they want to do to make maximum use out of that band down the road. so i don't expect that band would be auctioned in the next year or so, but i think what we're looking at is a long-term plan, a ten-year plan, and i think that spectrum could become very important before the end of the ten years. >> host: lynn stand on the. >> host: the 1755-1780 megahertz band that the wireless industry is really eyeing with some hunger is currently federal use. that's only 15 -- that right, 15? >> guest: 25. >> host: 25 of the total 500 you need. no matter what you do, you can't cram 500 into where there's only
25. there's complaints about the pop gaition characterristicses of that, you yourself just said it's not prime real estate. how much prime real estate can you realistically manage to find for the 500 megahertz? this. >> guest: we're going to be looking at a lot of bands. as you mentioned, we're going to look at over 2200 megahertz of spectrum to find the 500 necessary for, to meet the president's challenge to us. i couldn't predict today where all that will be found, but what we know is that there's a tremendous amount of innovation in this business, tremendous amount of growth in that we would hope and expect that the industry and the manufacturers are going to be able to respond as spectrum is identified to finding the kinds of equipment and the kinds of services that will make maximum use of the spectrum that we can make available. >> host: mr. strickling, if i could go back for a second to
incentive auctions. do you have, have you put a price tag or an estimated price tag on these incentive auctions? who will they benefit, how much will go to commercial carriers, how much will go to the taxpayer? >> guest: that's all to be worked out. the fcc will have the primary responsibility to actually carry out any auctions. it will really be up to congress to be making some of those policy judgments that you've just expressed, and as of now we don't have an administration position as to what that right balance ought to be between how much is needed for an incentive and how much should go back to the treasury. >> host: are broadcasters onboard with your current plan? >> guest: that's really a question for the fcc. i mean, this is spectrum that they manage over there, and they would have a better -- be in a better position to answer that question. >> host: well, in terms of federal agencies which you manage their spectrum for them, there's talk, you've mentioned their legislation, i believe it's called the commercial spectrum enhancement act needs to be updated to give them
better incentives, the agencies, to release their spectrum. my understanding is that this involves, you know, money for things like buying new equipment and actually doing the reallocation and the sharing. >> guest: right. >> host: does it, incentive usually means a little bit beyond just covering your costs. is there anything like that in mind? i mean, they are losing something beyond just needing equipment. they're losing the exclusive use or perhaps the entire use of spectrum. so are you thinking about something more? this. >> guest: well, first we should clarify exactly what federal agencies get. they get an assignment of spectrum. unlike the commercial world where people can, you know, bid for spectrum at auction and have what would appear to be a greater property interest in the spectrum that they've paid for in auction, in the case of the federal agencies, it's very clear: they receive an assignment. that assignment can be withdrawn at any point in time once they no longer need it, so there's no
property interest federal agencies have in it. what we hear from the agencies who very much want to assist the nation and the administration in realizing this goal, everyone understands the importance of getting more spectrum out into the commercial sector, and our agencies are by no means an exception to that. but their requests are fairly modest which is give us a chance to plan for this, give us a chance to use the most modern technology if we are going to move so that we can use the spectrum that we move to more efficiently than we otherwise would. these are not unreasonable requests. the problem has been that under the one act we had because the funding to pay the agencies comes out of auction proceeds, until you conduct the auction you didn't have the money to pay the agencies. what we're looking for is to find a way to be able to provide some money up front even before an auction takes place to allow these agencies to plan better. and that's what we hear from them what they want. they're not looking for a payout
or a way to make money off of this. they're looking for a way that they can responsibly work with the rest of the administration to help meet this goal, but many a way that benefits them as well. >> host: lawrence strickling, one of the things we're heard on "the communicators" is the issue of efficiency in spectrum, particularly when it comes to wireless carriers. is there a lot of efficiency that you see can be ringed from using the spectrum more wisely? >> guest: it's going to be an ongoing challenge in this industry for everyone in it, both commercial users and government users. and clearly we're going to need to find ways to use the spectrum we have better than we can. you referred to it as efficiency. but what we're are things -- talking about are things like perhaps having smaller and smaller cell sites so that more and more people can use the spectrum in a given area because you've got more cell sites,
femme toe cells is one of the technologies that's being looked at. so that's something that can help. there's a lot of interest in sharing technologies, the ability to have two different types of uses, two different types of service providers, you know, in the same geographic area, each providing a service where the services can recognize each other and kind of get out of the way of each other. really important ideas. they still haven't been proven out in practice, but the theories are there, and these are all things we're going to need to be looking at over the next few years to evaluate the ability to bring these into the commercial system and take better use of them. >> host: this is c-span's "communicators" program. our guest this week is the add herrer of the national telecommunications and information, larry strickling. lynn stand on the with telecommunications reports, senior editor, our quest reporter.
what's your background to get you to this position? >> guest: i've worked at a number of positions both in government and in industry in this sector. i worked at the fcc ten years ago and was chief of the common carrier bureau there, but i've also worked at a large bell company, ameritech, and have worked for a number of small carriers in the space as well including broad wing communications, allegiance telecom, core express, companies that for the most part are no longer with us, but it was a good background in terms of seeing both small companies trying to build a business as well as working for a large company like ameritech. >> host: and mr. strickling has his law degree from harvard. next topic area, lynn stand on the. >> host: the first initial recommendation in the reports that you just released are for shared use of 115 megahertz that's currently used for, i think, weather balloons and military radar mainly. should the recommendation that it be shared use be an
indication to industry to expect that that's what much of what the 500 megahertz allocation will be, that they won't have exclusive use of it? >> guest: no, i would say not. keep p in mind when we selected these bands for the fast track analysis, the assumption we made was there would not have to be any federal relocation. in other words, we looked at bands specifically because they could be shared between the commercial service and the federal users. so all 115 megahertz fit that cat gorization as well as the 4200 megahertz band that we're going to continue to look at and possibly make a recommendation on down the road. but, no, there's nothing to be drawn from that in terms of what the rest of the 500 megahertz will look like was we started only -- because we started only with bands that could be shared. >> host: those kinds of low-hanging fruit. >> guest: yeah. >> host: do you have buy-in from the current federal users of that 115 megahertz, or because
the president said we need to do this you're just going to point to that spectrum initiative from last summer and say, guys, go do it? >> guest: the fast track report which led to the recommendation on the 115 megahertz is a product of a very detailed interagency process. so in the case of the 15 megahertz in the noaa band, we worked very, very closely with noaa to understand their issues, their constraints before we made that recommendation. the entire band that noaa uses is a larger band, but we identified 15 megahertz at the top end of the band where we felt there could be a reallocation without great prejudice to noaa's existing operations. it's still going to require them to do a redesign of a new weather satellite in terms of the radio systems that go in it, but for the most part we're leaving their operations undisturbed. so, in fact, we don't actually touch the weather balloons. they're at the lower end of the
band. but we do have some issues for some new satellites. and, again, there are satellites working in that top 15 megahertz, but what we've done is, as i mentioned, the exclusion zones for the naval vessels, we also have provided exclusion zones around the earth stations that control those weather satellites to prevent interference both to the noaa operations and any commercial operations that might be nearby. >> host: and for viewers, noaa is the national oceanic and atmospheric association. >> host: how much global cooperation is there when it comes to allocating spectrum, to managing spectrum? >> guest: well, there's a real effort to harmonize spectrum internationally, but it's not 100%. what we have is the world radio conference that's held every four or five years where a lot of these international allocation decisions are discussed and made. when you deal with international
aviation, we have a whole other set of international regulations to deal with. so it's very important in the overall plan of things, and it's one we have to pay attention to. so i mentioned one of the other fast track bands we looked at as one that involved radar altimeters. well, that's a band that is used internationally by both domestic aircraft, commercial and military and international aircraft. so before we could possibly make a decision about doing any reallocation in that band, we have to understand the international implications of that because, of course, we constantly are having aircraft from foreign nations landing in the united states, and we can't make a reallocation that might possibly effect the systems that are used in those foreign aircraft. >> host: you mentioned at the top of the show that ntia is also responsible for allocating broadband stimulus grants. what's the status of the monies that you were given by congress earlier this year -- or last
year -- and what's the status of that money? >> guest: i'm very pleased to say that we met our deadline of allocating and awarding all of the broadband grant dollars by the end of this past september. >> host: about four billion? >> guest: it was over $4 billion. and that was the deadline created by the recovery act was to do that. and we did it by building a program that didn't exist, staffing it up, going out and getting applications, reviewing applications, doing the due diligence we needed to do on it and making the awards. so it's a real testament to the team at ntia that they were able to stand up that program and complete all the grant awards by our september 30th deadline. >> host: the annual congressional can't pass a budget -- [laughter] situation has given you a little bit of a problem though. you're supposed to oversee the actual use of these funds, and you don't have any money in the continuing resolution. there was money proposed in the fiscal year 2011 budget, but you
didn't get any in this resolution we're operating on until december 3rd. >> guest: december 3rd. >> host: so what do you do in those circumstances and how difficult is it to address that issue? >> guest: well, forchew matily, we've been able to operate normally during this period of time through arrangements we've worked out with the office of management and budget. but you're correct, we don't actually have the dollars, and we're going to need those dollars to avoid any delay or disruption in the program, so we've been working very closely with congress and with the white house here since the beginning of october, first, to really educate people on what our needs are and what the impacts are of our situation and to really make the case that they need to fix this, congress needs to fix this here in the session they're currently in. so hopefully, we'll get a resolution of this by the end of the session on december 3rd. but it's been a challenging month as we've tried to deal with that because, as you point out, getting the money out was
really very difficult, very complicated, but it was only the beginning. what we need to do now is make sure that these projects get built on schedule, on budget and deliver the benefits to the american people that we're expecting. those benefits are not just getting broadband service expanded, this is a job creation program. we want jobs created, we want economic growth in the communities receiving these dollars, and these are all things where we have to work very closely with these grantees to help them realize the benefits. many of them do not have federal grant experience. we had a two-day conference last week that we brought in all of our grantees, had about 300 people in to sit there and listen to all of the rules and regulations that are required to be followed by our grant recipients. it's quite a daunting task, and as a result our small staff is on the phone with folks constantly answering basic questions for these folks about federal grant procedures, but in addition we're going to need to
be providing them technical assistance to help them get these projects built. so providing oversight, it's not just a matter of preventing waste, fraud and abuse, although that is clearly a high priority for us. but it's also just helping these grantees to do what they need to do to get these projects built. and as i say, we want them on budget and on schedule. >> host: go ahead, lynn. >> host: i was going to say ntia unlike the rural utilities service which also was administering broadband funds from under the recovery act doesn't really have in place a staff that's into administering and overseeing grants. you don't do much of that the way rus does. so are you borrowing money from other programs during this period when you don't have the money yet for oversight? >> guest: no. we've been able to keep the staff on that we had intended to keep for this period. we had a larger staff during the past year when we were reviewing all the applications because you'll remember we awarded a
round one set of applications and then we went through a round two. so for a period of time this summer we actually were dual tracking in the sense that we were overseeing the round one grants, helping them get started at the same time we were reviewing applications for round two. so we were able to come up with a proper size of staff as of october 1. those folks are all on the job, they're all doing their work. what we're waiting for is to get the budget approved by congress either through a cr or through an omnibus budget in the next few weeks. >> host: mr. strickling, was that conference directly related to the critical ig report on the overseeing of the broadband grants? >> guest: no. we were going to do the grantee conference just because we needed to bring the grantees in. the ig report you're referring to, the one from last week, the principle finding of the report was that we need funding to carry out our mission. there were a couple of other
findings made in the report that i don't want to minimize them, but the ig has been very helpful to us in the sense that they really forced us to bring our a game to everything. but in large part when you go through the types of recommendations they were making, for example, one was did people sign in when they received training? there was no question whether or not people received training that they need to have, but how well had he documented it. and, again, we need to document those things. we need to take all those requirements very, very seriously to show that we're absolutely on top of our game here. but the fact of the matter is the program is operating very, very well. the ig, i think, acknowledges that at several places in the report, but there are some of these things we can do better in terms of our documentation and some of our contracting that we will do. but fundamentally, it's a sound program, and it's working very, very well. >> host: last question from you, lynn stand on the.
>> host: okay. you co-chair the broadband subcommittee of the national science and technology council committee on technology, and i was wondering how that entity interacts with the interagency effort to implement the non-fcc parts of the fcc's national broadband plan? is there overlap? >> guest: it's the same group. >> host: it is? >> guest: it's the same group. there's one interagency group that took the national broadband plan where we are looking to see what aspects of it are pertinent to individual agency missions. in addition, where there's interagency work that could be done, we have set up two working groups, one to focus on online safety, the second to focus on digital literacy, and so that group is working ahead both in terms of monitoring what individual agencies are doing such as energy with smart grid, health and human services with respect to health i.t. issues. but we're also trying to find places where agencies can work
together, and the two we've done so far are digital literacy and online safety. >> host: and finally, lawrence strickling, the white house has had rumblings that they are looking for a privacy czar when it comes to internet policy. will the ntia have a role in finding that person, appointing that personsome. >> guest: well, i'm not sure your assumption is entirely correct. i think you're referring to a department of commerce green paper that is currently going through interagency review. i want to emphasize that that is a set of recommendations, interim recommendations that the department is working on within the department of commerce that in no way has been adopted by the administration. indeed, it has not yet been adopted by the department of commerce. but we do intend to put a report out that asks a number of questions, suggests some recommendations and seek additional comment to continue a dialogue about privacy. bottom line, privacy's very, very important many this administration -- in this